So you may have read in my last post that I picked a seriously difficult topic to do speeches on in public speaking and I've a ninety second one to do on Tuesday. Hopefully this post will be a way of brainstorming and hopefully this post may even slightly change your opinion on what I'm about to write about.
(If it doesn't it's ok !)
When I was younger I'd think of feminists as lesbians, shaved heads, hates men, that kind of stereotype. But I was wrong. A feminist can be anyone and feminism and gender equality concerns both genders in every culture across the world. I identify as a feminist and I have opinions on gender equality, sexual harassment, women's rights and many other issues which I'm not afraid to talk about here on my blog. This post is only going to focus on gender stereotypes but in future, I'd hope to write about other issues too.
Back in August, Beyoncé performed at the VMA's with the big dirty word displayed in lights on the backdrop behind her. I was really inspired to write a post on how the media portrays and therefore influences both women and men and our opinions on gender equality, stereotypes and of course feminism. I never got around to write this post for several reasons - the biggest factor being that I could receive awful comments or turn people off my blog so I held off but after events over the past week, I don't want to hold myself back from expressing my opinions online so here we go !
Like I said, the media has a huge influence on us.
This past week gender equality and feminism has been a popular topic on social media after Sam Pepper scandal - which continues I must add and Emma Watson's speech on the stigma around the dirty f word and her role in the #HeForShe campaign - a campaign which celebrities and well known social media stars are now showing support for. Because of this, people are asking themselves what their opinions on these issues are - questions they've never even asked before and issues they've never thought to have mattered.
But the media can be nasty and feeds information into our brains which takes over and therefore changes society's way of thinking. Because of this, society makes decisions on how we should dress, behave and live from birth. They make these decisions based on all kinds of things and one of them is our gender and it is something that I strongly feel is wrong because we end up with three situations.
Situation one is when the media creates images of how our bodies should look and this is an issue which affects both women and men. The media sends women quite confusing messages on how their body should look which is ironic considering that it's said that women themselves can be quite confusing. One day we're told that we must be 'super skinny' and have flat tummies with gorgeous long legs because if we don't we're fat , but the day after we're being told to 'embrace our curves' along with our boobs and bums because men don't like twigs. I feel that the media sending men negative messages on how their bodies should look is an issue that is ignored too often. They tell men that they all must have a six pack, abs, the list goes on and they shame men who are 'scrawny' and basically have no visible muscle. Tumblr is a prime example of how the media influences our opinions on how our bodies should look. Search any kind of tag and photos of long-legged girls with thigh gaps and big boobs or tall guys with perfect bone structure, muscles and the 'v muscle' will show up right in front of your eyes. For a lot of people, these body types are unattainable and so the media's idea of the 'perfect body' causes us to not only feel awful about our own bodies but also to have expectations of other's bodies - for example, a lot of young girls would expect their male peers to have a full six pack and a lot of young boys would expect their female peers to have big boobs. These presumptions exist even without the media's presence - the messages just worsens them.
Situation two is how celebrities are judged, characters are created and music lyrics are written based on gender. Women tend to be more objectified than stereotyped but men are almost always stereotyped more than they are objectified. Women are constantly objectified in the media. 2014 has literally been the year of the butt in terms of pop music. I can't stand the fact that half the songs played on the radio either objectify or shame women's bodies so here's when I insert a few.
"You know what to do with that big fat butt ... Wiggle wiggle wiggle" - Jason Derulo
"Go ahead and tell them skinny b*tches that ... She says 'boys like a little more booty to hold at night'" - Meghan Trainor
"I know you want it. I know you want it." - Robin Thicke
"I said, where my fat a** big b*tches in the club? F*ck those skinny b*tches, f**k those skinny b*tches in the club" - Nicki Minaj
These songs are catchy ! The beat is catchy, the lyrics are catchy and therefore we hum them and catch on to the lyrics, singing them aloud on the go. Lyrics that are objectifying women, lyrics that are telling men that they're entitled to a woman's body and lyrics that are telling men that a woman needs a big butt to be attractive. Radios play these songs over and over again and it makes me sick to hear the lyrics blaring out and being normalised. The way women are objectified through music videos makes me even sicker. I am all for dressing how you like but women are clearly half dressed and semi naked in these videos to sell sex. That's all they're there for - to symbolise sex. This again sends messages to men and influential young boys that women's bodies equals sex and that they are entitled to a woman's body for their pleasure and entertainment.
The media influences how we behave towards one another.
The film industry is notorious for stereotyping and Disney is the worst for stereotyping gender roles. Frozen is the first film not to stereotype the female lead as helpless and reliant on men to save them. The portrayal of men in films is something which is definitely not spoken about enough. Again, Disney is notorious for this and children watching these movies are subconsciously developing ideas of how they should look and act according to their gender. The male lead of these films are stereotyped as 'macho' and tough displayed only strong heroic emotions. This tells young boys that they must always be stronger and more heroic than his female peers and aren't as capable of doing domestic jobs or being as loving as his female peers. Films in general rarely portray men as being emotional and when they do, it is usually the weak or homosexual character who displays these emotions. This is wrong on so many levels and has a lot to account for why men are often afraid to display and speak about their emotions.
The more I research gender stereotyping for this post and the more I write this post, I keep getting angrier and angrier at the situation. All forms of media including newspapers, films, music and micro-blogging websites are inflicting gender stereotypes on us from a very young age. They're promoting the idea that this is okay and it's not okay.
I thought I should end my post with this ...
"Emma Watson delivers a speech to the UN on the importance of not demeaning women so the Daily Mail reviews her outfit"